These days, the Glock is one of the most well-known and reliable handguns available to professionals and shooting enthusiasts of all kinds. Despite being founded back in 1963 by Austrian engineer and businessman, Gaston Glock, Glock Ges.m.b.h. actually didn’t release its very first firearm until almost two decades later. Prior to that release, the company focused on manufacturing other products for the Austrian military, such as knives, machine gun belt links, and grenade casings. That changed, however, when the Glock 17 got its shot in 1982.
In the early 1980s, the Austrian Armed Forces were in dire near of a new and reliable sidearm for their combatants. At the time, their military was still using the out-of-date Walther P38 from World War II. In response to this, the Ministry of Defence of Austria announced that they would take into consideration several new and modern handguns proposed to them, so long as they met the 17-item long list of required criteria. Among these requirements was the need for it fire 9x19mm parabellum rounds, be self loading, and have preventive measures to prevent any accidental discharge.
Enter Gaston Glock.
Up until that point, Mr. Glock had never made even a single firearm. However, with the help of several European handgun experts and his company’s machine specifically designed for crafting custom polymer parts, Mr. Glock was able to produce the Glock 17 after only one year.
The Glock 17 was designed to be a simple yet durable sidearm that was easy to learn and even easier to maintain. The weapon consisted of only 35 parts, included three internal safeties, and a 17-round magazine. The Austrian military was a big fan of the new pistol and adopted it as their official firearm in 1983.
Then in 1986, after witnessing its success overseas, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. also went on to adopt the handgun as their official sidearm. The U.S. was facing an ever-escalating problem with international drug trade at the time and the Glock 17 gave them an edge that they desperately needed.
The first generation of the Glock 17 remained in production until 1988, when the Gen 2 model was finally revealed.
During the second generation of their pistols, Glock made several small but important quality of life improvements to their firearms. Now that the weapon was an international staple for military and police, the company began to manufacture the gun with a steel plate that clearly displayed the weapon’s serial number so that it was in compliance with ATF guidelines.
In addition to the steel plate, Glock also began to produce the weapons with upgrades to its magazine floorplate and magazine follower spring, a new checkered grip texture for improved handling, and began to offer the weapon in several different calibers.
Alongside the second generation of the Glock 17 that was released in 1988, the company also unveiled its newest product – the Glock 19. Still considered arguably the company’s most iconic pistol. Later on, in 1995, the Glock 26 and Glock 27 would also be release and aimed more at casual consumers as opposed to military or police personnel.
Initially kicking off in 1998, the Gen 3 Glocks have now been in production for over 20 years and are still sold today. With the arrival of the third generation, the weapons began to be produced in two new calibers (.45 GAP and .357 Sig) and now came with an accessory rail. This rail allowed for more tactically advantageous options like a mounted flashlight or laser for improved accuracy.
In addition to the new calibers and rail, the Gen 3 Glocks received several other upgrades including thumb shelfs on both sides of the weapon for both right and left-handed shooters, finger grooves in the handle, and an extractor for indicating a loaded chamber.
Generation 4 of the Glock started in 2010 and brought along with it several new improvements to the firearm and its first significant change in dimensions since the original Glock 17 in 1982.
One of the biggest changes made to the Glock in the fourth generation was the introduction of a much larger magazine catch/release. At nearly three times the size of previous generations, the catch/release could now be swapped to either side of the gun to accommodate all shooters, regardless of their dominant hand.
Generation 4 also brought along a much more stable shooting experience. The Gen 4 Glocks feature a dual recoil spring that drastically cuts back on the weapon’s recoil and allows for much more precise firing. As an added benefit, the reduced recoil also extended the life of Gen 4 Glocks by minimizing wear and tear on the weapon from prolonged firing.
This generation also witnessed the introduction of the Glock 42 .380 ACP and Glock 43 9mm. Both are subcompact single stack handguns.
2017 saw the arrival of the Gen 5 Glocks, including the Glock 47 and 45 that are now the service weapons of both U.S. Borer Patrol and Customs agents. The Gen 5 models boast new trigger guard relief cuts, a flared magazine well to increase reloading speed, as well as alterations to the Glock’s internal components.
The internal mechanisms of the Glock have remained largely the same since the original Gen 1 weapons. This, however, changed with the arrival of the fifth generation. The standard barrel has been swapped out in favor of a Glock Marksman barrel in all Gen 5 models, the cross pin has been removed, and Generation 5 Glocks also use a nDLC coating to help prevent against scratches and corrosion.